NSI team that helped turn Lee Zii Jia into a champ

Right after Lee Zii Jia won the All-England Championship men’s singles title on Sunday, four National Sports Institute (NSI) personnel took a picture with him.

The picture, which was not publicised, is an acknowledgment of the roles of performance analyst Jerry Gan Wye Leong, physiotherapists Muhammad Zhariff Ismail and Rayvadee Rattanakthada, and masseur Sebah Kari in realising the historic moment.

That, according to NSI chief executive officer Ahmad Faedzal Md Ramli, is the perfect description of “the team behind the team”.

“We’ve been involved in badminton for a long time. Gan has been with the national badminton players for the past nine years,” said Ahmad Faedzal.

“Gan is a former Melaka shuttler and is passionate about the sport. His role is to analyse every game and to understand where the players get points and lose points, among others. Such data will help the players improve their play.”

“Rayvadee and Sebah have also been following the athletes for years. So they are familiar faces among our badminton players.”

Other NSI staff directly involved with the badminton team include Shafiq Amran (physical adaptation), Dr Timothy Jones (exercise physiology) and nutritionist Chai Wen Jin.

Ahmad Faedzal pointed out that they all played an important role..

“The recovery process after every match is very important. The athletes need to be properly guided on how to rebound, especially after back-to-back tournaments.”

The national shuttlers returned from Birmingham yesterday. Ahmad Faedzal said the NSI staff will submit a report on every athlete’s performances during the All-England.

“Our work doesn’t stop there. With the feedback, the bio mechanics guys, for example, will test the mechanics of the body movement of the players. This will help the shuttlers improve their cross shots or backhand.”

R. Yuvaraj and S. Viswanath from NSI’s Sports Biomechanics Department, together with Juliana Usman, Harley Towler and Mark King, authored a journal ‘Kinetic and kinematic determinants of shuttlecock speed in the forehand jump smash performed by elite male Malaysian badminton players‘ which was published on March 4.

As badminton is the fastest racquet sport in the world with smash speeds reaching over 400 km per hour, the journal examines the forehand jump smash of 19 Malaysian badminton players.

The authors noted that the positioning of the arm at contact appears to be critical in developing greater shuttlecock smash speeds.

Ahmad Faedzal added NSI remains on track with its programmes to help shape up the athletes ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in July.

“This is just some of the work we do across the board involving all sports. We are best described as the team behind the team,” he said.

Editor’s note (April 8, 2024; 9.48am): It has been brought to our attention that several other individuals had also assisted Lee ahead of his All-England Championship victory. They were Joe Heang Lim, the strength coach who was working for BAM, the national body’s psychologist Muhammad Deen, and Tim Jones, an accredited physiologist who was also the Road to Tokyo co-ordinator for NSI.